BIOGRAPHY

AMIR ELSAFFAR

GENRE: JAZZ / IRAQI MAQAM

COUNTRY: USA

Iraqi-American trumpeter, santour player, vocalist, and composer Amir ElSaffar is on the forefront of a wave of musicians who are incorporating the traditional musical styles of their cultural backgrounds with modern sensibilities, blurring the lines and conventions that differentiate styles, toward a music that resonates human. Whether playing trumpet in a jazz context, or singing and playing santour in an Iraqi setting, ElSaffar brings a depth of emotion and authenticity to his music that has spoken to musicians and audiences globally.

 

Growing up in River Forest, IL, a suburb west of Chicago, ElSaffar was first exposed to by his father to the recordings of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, and to music from the Blues Brothers Soundtrack. He received his first musical training singing in the Church Choir at the Lutheran school he attended, and his mother taught him to sing and play American folk songs on ukulele and guitar when he was nine. He eventually found his calling with the trumpet. While pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in trumpet from DePaul University, ElSaffar was performing throughout the Chicago area with jazz, blues, rhythm and blues, and salsa groups, in addition to being a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago for two years, wherein he worked with conductors such as Pierre Boulez, Daniel Barenboim, and Mstislav Rostropovich.

 

ElSaffar composed Two Rivers, a suite that invokes Iraqi musical traditions and frames them in a modern Jazz setting. His 2007 Pi Recordings release, Two Rivers, was described by All About Jazz as "a stirring example of the creative possibilities of international jazz in the 21st century," and by the Philadelphia Inquirer as "hypnotic and arresting." It appeared on the Boston Globe's Top 10, Philadelphia City Paper's top Jazz releases, and was selected by the Village Voice critic's poll as the runner-up Debut jazz release of 2007.

 

In 2008, Amir received a commission from the Made in Chicago Festival to assemble a 17-piece ensemble and write for it arrangements of the Two Rivers Suite. This ensemble performed at Millennium Park in Chicago, drawing an audience of over 5000 people, and again the following year at Lincoln Center’s Out of Doors Festival. Included in this ensemble were piano, guitar and vibraphone, all re-tuned to accommodate the microtones found in Arabic music.
Iraqi-American trumpeter, santour player, vocalist, and composer Amir ElSaffar is on the forefront of a wave of musicians who are incorporating the traditional musical styles of their cultural backgrounds with modern sensibilities, blurring the lines and conventions that differentiate styles, toward a music that resonates human. Whether playing trumpet in a jazz context, or singing and playing santour in an Iraqi setting, ElSaffar brings a depth of emotion and authenticity to his music that has spoken to musicians and audiences globally.
Growing up in River Forest, IL, a suburb west of Chicago, ElSaffar was first exposed to by his father to the recordings of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, and to music from the Blues Brothers Soundtrack. He received his first musical training singing in the Church Choir at the Lutheran school he attended, and his mother taught him to sing and play American folk songs on ukulele and guitar when he was nine. He eventually found his calling with the trumpet. While pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in trumpet from DePaul University, ElSaffar was performing throughout the Chicago area with jazz, blues, rhythm and blues, and salsa groups, in addition
to being a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago for two years, wherein he worked with conductors such as Pierre Boulez, Daniel Barenboim, and Mstislav Rostropovich.

TERRITORY: WORLD

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